Homines Diversi: Heterogeneous Earner Behaviors in the Platform Economy

Mehmet Cansoy, Samantha Eddy, Isak Ladegaard, Juliet B. Schor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The platform economy has entered its second decade, and researchers are developing new theorizations of it as an economic form. One important feature is a heterogeneous labor force with respect to hours of work. In this paper, we identify another type of heterogeneity, which is the diversity of economic orientation of earners. Using in-depth interview data from 102 earners on three platforms (Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and StocksyUnited) we find that even within individual platforms, earners have different behavioral models. We have identified three — the maximizing homo economicus; sociologists’ relational homo socialis; and homo instrumentalis. We present evidence of these three types. We then discuss platform policies and how earner diversity aligns with their imperatives for growth.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143–165
Number of pages23
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Airbnb
  • Behavioral models
  • Gig economy
  • Platform cooperative
  • Platform economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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